Last Friday night, a bright meteor streaked through the skies above the east coast. Witnesses from Maine to Florida reported seeing the object, and a few videos were taken, including in Manhattan and Maryland. The sightings caused a social media buzz, and are leaving people to wonder, yet again, why we are seeing so many fireballs lately.
Meteors bright enough to be seen over a very wide area are called bolides. Last month saw perhaps the most spectacular bolide in recent history in Russia. Hundreds were injured by the sonic boom this massive bolide created as it flew past, causing windows to explode.
Kelly Beatty, an astronomer with the Clay Observatory, told Boston’s FOX news that 100 tons of space debris hits earth every day, but we don’t always see it. He says the bright ones, like the one seen over the east coast on Friday, come around once every 5 years and even then are rarely as bright as Friday’s event.
A representative from NASA estimated the object to have been about a yard across. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environmental Office, went on to say, “We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the northeast.”
Although, astronomers continue to claim bolides are rare, they also claim that we are not seeing an abnormal amount of them. Just last week NASA launched a fireball and bolide tracking website as part of their Near Earth Object Program. Friday’s event has not made it to their list yet, in fact the only one listed thus far is the Russian event in February.